Introduction / History
The Jats are not a homogeneous ethnic group living in a particular area and speaking a single language. Rather, they are a people who live scattered around the world among several ethnic groups, yet retain their own identity. This distinction is often based on occupation and heritage.
They are subdivided by clan. Among the Jat peoples, Gil can refer to either a surname or a clan. The Gil Jat clan is found in the Punjab speaking regions straddling eastern Pakistan and northwestern India. It is one of the largest and most aristocratic of the Jat clans.
When Arab Muslim armies first invaded what is now Pakistan's Sindh Province in the seventh century, they found the chief tribal groupings to be among the Jats, which were sometimes called Zatts in Arab writings. Jats were among the first converts to Islam, and many were employed as soldiers by the Arab Muslim administration in Sindh. Between the 10th and 13th centuries Jat communities from Sindh and Balochistan migrated to Punjab. Between the 11th and 13th centuries these Jats became farmers who enjoyed the advantage of irrigation for their crops. During this time many more began to convert to Islam, though other Jats are either Hindu or Sikh, especially further east in what is now India.
Where are they located?
There are Gil Jats in almost all of Pakistan's provinces, but especially in Punjab. They are also in many of India's northern states.
What are their lives like?
The Jats are noted for their skills as soldiers and as farmers. A large number of the Jat Muslim people live in Pakistan and have dominant roles in public life in the province of Punjab and Pakistan in general.
What are their beliefs?
There are Sikh, Hindu and Muslim Gil Jats, but the Muslims dominate in Pakistan. They are from the politically and numerically powerful Sunni branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims depend on their own righteousness, based on the teachings of their prophet, Mohammed, and their holy book, the Qur'an. They do not have a savior who is free from sin, though the Qur'an teaches that Isa (Jesus) was without sin. They believe their eternal salvation depends on the will of Allah. Regardless of their religious affiliation, all Jats observe many ceremonies, especially rites of passage such as circumcision and initiation into adulthood.
What are their needs?
Gil Jats, whether they are Sikh, Hindu, or Muslim, need to know that there is a salvation in noone other than the sinless savior, Jesus Christ. They need to put their faith in His work on the cross to pay for our sins, and in the resurrection. It will take a work of God to convince these self-assured people that they must trust Christ with their eternity.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out additional laborers into Pakistan to work among the Gil Jats.
* Pray that Christian doctors, nurses, and humanitarian aid workers will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with Gil Jats.
* Ask God to save key Jat leaders who will boldly proclaim the gospel to their own people.
* Pray that churches and mission organizations will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Jats.
* Ask God to raise up teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Jats.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth disciple making movements among the Jats for the glory of His name.
Text source: Keith Carey